Rescuers freed six miners after an undisclosed period following an explosion at the Three Point Coal Company mine in southeast Kentucky. Twelve miners perished in the accident; 3 directly by the explosion and 9 others found huddled together, overcome by gases. The six rescued miners had traveled one mile further into the mine where they constructed a barricade. Source document.
Explosion Traps 18 Harlan Miners
Kingsport News, Tennessee
September 17, 1943
Harlan, Ky. -- (AP) -- Deadly damp-black, dreaded by all coal miners, overcame four members of rescue squads working frantically Thursday night to free 18 workmen trapped by an explosion in the Three Point Coal Company Mine.
Eleven hours after the Cumberland mountain blast rescuers wearing gas masks still were hundreds of feet from the trapped miners. They estimated several more hours would be required to reach the men. Virtually no hope was held out for their lives, since it was feared damp black fumes had reached them in their tunnel almost 5,000 feet down.
The four men overcome by fumes were Pat McGinnis, Johnnie Gossell, Ted Brown and Ralph Disney. They were not believed seriously affected.
Relatives of the entrapped men were not allowed near the mine entrance where a comparative calm prevailed as rescuers fought their way tunnel by tunnel and room by room.
Nearly 200 men were working in the mine when the explosion rocked the pit. All but the 18 had been accounted for late Thursday afternoon. There was no official explanation about the cause of the explosion pending an investigation.
Wives, children and other relatives of the trapped men were joined by hundreds of mountain mine folk in the traditional vigil at the mouth of the mine while the rescue work went on under the direction of James Bryson, safety director for the Harlan County Coal Operators Association; Moss Paterson, chief of the State Bureau of Mines and Minerals, and State and Federal mine inspectors.
The Three Point Coal Company listed the trapped men as:
Foreman Albert Bonza
E. M. Howard
All 18 men were residents of the Three Point coal mining community of Harlan County, about 12 miles south of the city of Harlan.
The Three Point diaster was the worst suffered in the county since December 9, 1932, when 23 men were killed in an
explosion in the Zero Mine of Harlan Fuel Company.